Animal Maiming in the New Forest as an instrument of protest and punishment, during the wardenship of the Duke of Bedford: 1746-1771 – Abstract & Video

The following paper was presented at the New Forest Knowledge Conference 2017 entitled: New Forest Historical Research and Archaeology: who’s doing it? Below you will find the abstract of the paper and a video of the paper given if permission to film it was given by the speaker.


Gale Gould
(University of Southampton)


During the Duke of Bedford’s tenure as Lord Warden of the New Forest, many instances of animal maiming were documented in the correspondence with his assistants, estate managers and Forest officials. These included accounts of the stabbing of horses, laming of cattle, poisoning of dogs and killing of deer. The motives for conducting acts of maiming have been closely associated with forms of covert political protest, such as breaking enclosures, destroying timber plantations, burning hayricks and even poaching. Such clandestine acts were generally committed as part of an organised campaign of discontent. Attacks on animals were also undertaken as a form of punishment or petty revenge, with the animal acting as a proxy for its owner. Many of the cases in the New Forest during the period of this study were acts perpetrated to frustrate the Lord Warden’s attempts to advance his conservation policy of protecting the venison and vert, by intimidating his keepers and law-abiding tenants. In some cases, the perpetrators were not necessarily demonstrating against their own discontent but were being incited to use such violence by senior officials, who wanted to express their dissatisfaction with Bedford’s attempts to correct their maladministration of the Forest and to hide their own corrupt activities.

The Talk

Date: 2017

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